NEW YORK — Jets left tackle Kelvin Beachum knows what it’s like to grow up as a child with parents who need help putting food on the table.
Now the 29-year-old wants to do his part to ensure fewer families have to worry about their next meal.
“I used to be one of them,” Beachum recently told Sporting News. “I was one of those kids that was on fee reduced lunch, and I’ve experienced some of the issues that kids are facing right now. I knew from personal experience how that was and have been able to join the fight for it.”
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In an article posted last month on the Jets’ team site titled, “In My Own Words: Kelvin Beachum on His Fight to End World Hunger,” he reflects upon what his family went through and what he’s doing to give back. He writes about how his parents always found a way to make sure he and his siblings had enough to eat, and often times, that meant help from various programs. While he and his siblings were able to focus on just being kids, Beachum knows many children are far too aware of the poverty they face.
My JetLife https://t.co/9mXWJAXv1x
— Kelvin Beachum (@KelvinBeachumJr) October 27, 2018
In addition to changing how society views families who struggle to put food on the table, Beachum wants to break stereotypes about what it means to be a football player. He combines both goals into one cause: feeding the hungry. It shows people how there are more to athletes than the games they play, and those who struggle often have no choice.
“Struggling with poverty and food insecurity is too often viewed as a choice or consequence rather than an unfortunate circumstance,” Beachum writes. “That’s a stigma I hope to break.”
Beachum works with World Vision, an Evangelical Christian humanitarian aid, development and advocacy organization. He also has an annual youth football camp at Mexia High School in Mexia, Texas, the small town in which he grew up.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) November 27, 2018
“It’s extremely important,” Beachum told SN. “When you are blessed enough to be in this game you have to find a way to be a blessing to others.”
In his article, Beachum notes he was inspired by his parents, who went from needing assistance to being able to welcome families into their home and give back to their community. He also learned from them the value of hard work; even when he goes back to Mexia today, he knows he has work to do on his farm.
— Kelvin Beachum (@KelvinBeachumJr) October 16, 2018
When Beachum is not focusing on his charities or playing football, he can often be found speaking at IT conferences or investing in start-up companies. He has interactive programs that focus on effective leadership, diversity and inclusion.
Beachum, who has been inspiring crowds since college (he was the commencement speaker for his graduation at Southern Methodist University), puts a heavy focus on the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) program because, as he says on his website, “Not everyone can go pro in football, but everyone can go pro in STEM.”
He concludes his article for the Jets by calling for others to help: “From volunteering at a local pantry, to donating food or funds, to advocating for policy change, we can all do our part.
“At the end of the day, it’s about being a good human. The world is going through a lot right now and anything you can do to bring light to it — that’s impactful.”